Congress leaders Gaurav Gogoi and Ajay Maken are in quarantine at a Manipur hotel (File)
A day after BJP leader Ram Madhav said the Congress' Gaurav Gogoi and Ajay Maken had been quarantined by Manipur health authorities, for travelling to the northeastern state during the coronavirus lockdown, Mr Gogoi hit back, declaring that his colleague and he had travelled with "prior permission" and knew very well they would be quarantined on arrival "like any other passenger".
On Friday Mr Madhav mocked the Congress for moving a no-confidence motion against the Biren Singh-led BJP government in the state despite failing to muster enough support to win the sole Rajya Sabha seat on offer in the state.
"Congress could not win the Rajya Sabha seat. Yet they went to the Governor claiming a majority in the Assembly. Ajay Maken and MP Gaurav Gogoi entered Manipur disregarding coronavirus guidelines and have been quarantined," he tweeted.
Gaurav Gogoi, a Lok Sabha MP, replied: "We came on a chartered flight with prior permission. This is why we were allowed to land in Imphal. We did not enter the state in a clandestine manner".
"Like any other passenger we gave all our details to government authorities and have been quarantined in a hotel. We knew the rules for COVID-19 in Manipur and came prepared," he added, pointing out that both Mr Maken and he had "two big suitcases full of clothes" since they intended to stay for a long period.
"The political crisis in Manipur will be a long-drawn battle; the fact that the BJP won the single Rajya Sabha seat doesn't mean their government has the numbers. The Biren Singh government is in the minority and we are pushing for floor test," he told NDTV today via phone from the Manipur capital.
The BJP won the sole Rajya Sabha seat on offer in Manipur with 28 votes; the party's Leisemba Sanajaoba beat the Congress' T Mangibabu.
The Rajya Sabha face-off is just the tip of the iceberg though, with the Congress having moved a no-confidence motion against the BJP government this week, shortly after nine legislators withdrew support.
As the political situation in Manipur unfolds, both Gaurav Gogoi and Ram Madhav took to Twitter once more.
"You're a senior person in the party. I would have hoped that you would have checked your facts before tweeting. Maybe the last-minute manipulation to block four Congress votes has induced a false sense of confidence," Mr Gogoi wrote.
Ram Madhav hit back: "A total of five Congress MLAs voted for the BJP (in the Rajya Sabha poll). That is a fact. So much for your confidence-boosting visit to Imphal. The government clearly informed you about quarantine rules in advance. Yet you went to "boost" confidence. The result... !"
Both Mr Gogoi and Mr Maken have been advising the state unit of the Congress via phone from their hotel quarantine on how to push forward with their demand of an urgent special session of the Assembly, where the Congress is looking to formally move a no-confidence motion against the current government.